Every boy, in his desire to be the dragon-slaying hero, looks for a role model. A mentor. Athletes, actors, rock stars. The challenge is finding a man who can show you how to navigate the daily struggles -- with less adventure and smaller paychecks.
The Best of Evil ... A novel
The past three days of minor sickness have left me separated from the short term mission team we are hosting. I've been isolated in my office-by-day and bedroom-by-night. This isolation has left me with ample opportunity for reflection.
REFLECTION: a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.
After more than four decades of ministry I discovered my influence is transported by a God-given love for people. It revolves around three strategic questions: (1) Who are you? (2) Where are you going? (3) Why are you here? It's this last question that has occupied my reflections.
I do not want to come to Africa every year by default. I want to be sent. I am a follower of Christ. I believe I am here ... both on this earth in general and in Uganda specifically ... to connect spiritual orphans to the heart of the Father. To embrace the purpose of Jesus in finding lost sons and bringing them home to His eternal family. I believe I am to express the heart of a father in equipping them to maturity.
Those who are teachable don't mind the influence and, in fact, welcome it. Those who would rather put their confidence in their age, experience, intelligence, achievements, position, or personality usually don't have the humility it takes to receive from someone like me. And, a young twig is usually easier to shape than an old branch. Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in the hands of a warrior. (Psalm127:3-4)
One of my most significant mentors posted a fascinating blog this morning which put the period behind my reflection. Taken from Chapter 11 of the Second Edition of his book, Like Father, Like Son, Don Atkin captured the ambition of my "why am I here" question. The book is available from www.DonAtkin.com/publications.html in paper, Kindle, and ePub.
Here's to all the real men out there.
- Boys play house.
- Men build homes.
- Boys shack up.
- Men get married.
- Boys make babies.
- Men raise children.
- A boy won't raise his own children.
- A man will raise someone else's.
- Boys invent excuses for failures.
- Men produce strategies for success.
- Boys look for someone to take care of them.
- Men look for someone to take care of.
- Boys seek popularity.
- Men demand respect and know how to give it.
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. (1 Corinthians 4:15)
Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Paul penned these words way back in the first century. Family was the foundational order of the prevailing culture. Children were raised in two-parent (one male and one female) homes where fathers were the primary disciplinarians.
In those days, God spoke to the fathers by the prophets. (Hebrews 1:1) It is fair to conclude, when Paul wrote, "You do not have many fathers," he was referring to the family of God.
More than two thousand years have gone by, and we do not even enjoy the luxury of pointing to natural fathers (with few exceptions) as examples of spiritual fathering. The orphan culture itself declares, "We do not have many fathers!"
Don has often said to me, "You can teach what you know, but you can impart who you are." I believe I'm here in Uganda to impart the heart of the spiritual father God has placed in me. May God give me the necessary resources to do what I believe He has made me to do. By the grace of God may I sharpen and shape young arrows to pierce the targets for which they were created.
Three weeks from today I will be back in my home state of Oregon. Should I return to Uganda? This is a relevant question which emerged from my reflection. Does God have a purpose for me in Uganda? There is certainly a need for spiritual fathers in this fatherless nation. I have plans to return later this year, but as one friend wrote me the end of last week, "We make plans. God laughs." That is not an exact quote of Proverbs 16:9, but it does help me to not presume and to let Him take the lead.